The world's biggest grave robbery: Asia’s disappearing WWII shipwrecks

#82
I thought at least some of them were cremated & others burried in pits? there are som sketches made at the time of this work in progress I think?
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#83
Ok so there are designated war grave sites, what about the bodies buried at sea in small numbers? What happens if one is found, recovered etc?
About 40 odd years ago my stepdad was on trawlers out of Newlyn and told me that they pulled in the remains of a WW2 plane with the pilot still strapped in. There must be loads down there!
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#84
It doesn't matter whether there are surviving skeletal remains or not, the point about the wrecks is that they are "graveyards", scenes of death, consecrated burial grounds, memorial sites, etc.

That concept is pretty much the same across all human cultures, and always has been. That even includes the suspected perpetrators, Chinese private or government looters.
There was a TV program some time back where divers were exploring the wrecks in the Truk lagoon, subjected to heavy US air attack in WW. The divers went to considerable lengths to avoid disturbing any of the human remains in an previously unknown submarine wreck they found. As a result of the respect shown, the Japanese government invited the divers to assist in recovering those remains when an official Japanese government expedition arrived to do it. The bones were then taken back to Japan and interred there with any surviving relatives present.

Which would seem an appropriate way to do it.

Wordsmith

(Typos corrected)
 
Last edited:

ugly

LE
Moderator
#85
Just a thought re burial at sea, is it intended to be final? I saw on world at war that during the pacific campaigns Marine dead on shore were buried there but those dying on hospital ships were usually buried at sea, any reason apart from space?
 
#86
Dont forget at sea ,for examle Battle of Trafalgar,all dead were chucked overboard during the fighting.I seem to recall the British fleet dumped about 500 bodies of which I seem to recall recently reading somewhere,only one was ever recovered & identified,a young officer i think.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#87
Dont forget at sea ,for examle Battle of Trafalgar,all dead were chucked overboard during the fighting.I seem to recall the British fleet dumped about 500 bodies of which I seem to recall recently reading somewhere,only one was ever recovered & identified,a young officer i think.
Too coincidental ?
 
#88
Just a thought re burial at sea, is it intended to be final? I saw on world at war that during the pacific campaigns Marine dead on shore were buried there but those dying on hospital ships were usually buried at sea, any reason apart from space?
Lack of refrigerated Morgues onboard. My boss in the 1980's told me of the ship he was on had dead marines in the hold and they were popping in the tropical heat before they could all be buried at sea. Said he slept topside all the way back to pearl
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#89
Although the teeth were sold to the recipient, there were no purchasing of scavenger rights, they were just nicked.

And the vast majority of Waterloo Teeth sold in the UK had never crossed the channel!
 
#90
As reported at the start of this thread, the total disappearance of the wrecks HMS Exeter (8,500 tons), HNlMS De Ruyter (6,500 tons). HNlMS Java (6,600 tons) and HNlMS Kortenaer (1,200 tons) a huge amount of metal, took place without anyone seeing anything beggars belief, as this must have been a considerable salvage operation. Just hope that as these ships were sunk at action stations sooner or later the salvage scrotes will pull up something that will still operate with a big bang!
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
#91
Treatment with reverence of the dead and wounded only really came about after the Battle of Solferino, Henry Durant, a social activist was so horrified with what he found on the battlefield. thousands of wounded left to die and the dead unburied, he was motivated to form the Red Cross. Prior to that, probably the last army to institutionally care for its wounded and bury its dead was the Roman Army.

Prior to the Red Cross, while you might do something for your own wounded, walking the battlefield and bayoneting the enemy wounded was quite common, (it was considered an act of kindness rather than leaving them to be eaten by wild dogs or pecked over by crows), and at best, some pits might be dug and all the dead piled in, but normally, it was left to any local good offices of the church to do something for the dead and wounded, which generally translated to leaving everything to nature.
 
Last edited:
#93
I've seen several archeological digs on TV that involve looting of the dead.
Indeed.
I've often wondered when, in terms of years, a grave site, military or not, ceases to become sacred ground and transmorphs into a playground for the likes of Baldrick and his Time Team mates.

Is there an internationally recognised time frame for this apparent metamorphsis and if so will, in 100 years time, the Battlefields of the First and Second World Wars become fair game for the grave botherers?
 
#94
Indeed.
I've often wondered when, in terms of years, a grave site, military or not, ceases to become sacred ground and transmorphs into a playground for the likes of Baldrick and his Time Team mates.

Is there an internationally recognised time frame for this apparent metamorphsis and if so will, in 100 years time, the Battlefields of the First and Second World Wars become fair game for the grave botherers?
I'd argue that in many respects the WWI ones already are. People seem to crawl all over them quite readily.
 
#95
Eastern european scavengers regard WW 2 grave sites as open season, especially to get their hands on medals and firearms.............in the case of Stalingrad, the Russians reacted with both contempt and practicality; the city was a sea of corpses, it was bitterly cold, housing was the utmost priority so they simply marched the Axis captives out of town and essentially left them to their own devices on open ground, apart from the Staff, who were immediately interrogated. The first buildings that were reactivated were the political and police headquarters, as they knew that control of the city's population was essential, so the population were put to work on clearance right off, and the Germans, after a few days, were either shipped out or made to start clearance work. In a lot of cases, the Germans had already piled their dead to avoid disease and they were frozen solid so they were left untouched. Teams were formed to get the movable dead out of buildings and clear up weapons and explosives. The Russians left most of the surface dead alone, but they were conscious of the approach of spring and the thaw which would expose the dead, so they cleared out as much as possible. The city didnt start to get rebuilt properly until well into the 50s.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#97
The Sew-sew (ship's tailor)'s boy (pretty well slavey assistant), an 'Unofficial*' Chinese on board HMS Newfoundland was killed by enemy action south of Suez 1st November 1956. The other Unofficials, fronted by No.1 Laundry Boy, asked for the wardroom beer fridge to be emptied and the corpse stowed therein and transported back to Hong Kong (months away). After some arcane discussions a Bhuddist burial at sea was agreed and contrived. He's down there on the bottom of the Red Sea or at least anything of him the sharks have left.

* Tailors, cobblers, laundrymen, barber etc - HK civilian tradesmen - to distinguish them from the 'Official' cooks and stewards who were HK locally-enlisted RN ratings. The whole thing orchestrated, with undoubted 'squeeze' by the wardroom Chief Steward of the HK naval base (HMS Tamar).
 
#98
Indeed.
I've often wondered when, in terms of years, a grave site, military or not, ceases to become sacred ground and transmorphs into a playground for the likes of Baldrick and his Time Team mates.

Is there an internationally recognised time frame for this apparent metamorphsis and if so will, in 100 years time, the Battlefields of the First and Second World Wars become fair game for the grave botherers?
The archaeological digs on WW1 sites are very good at making sure bodies they find are treated with respect.

From a purely archaeological perspective there is nothing to learn from digging up WW1 or later graves because we already know enough about the era that what went into the graves doesn't give us anything new.

For the Viking Age as an example an enormous amount of what we know about how they lived, material culture, health etc etc comes from what is found in their graves. If there wasn't archaeology done on graves from that period we would know next to nothing about life then.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads

Top